The piece I wrote this week on my experience during the 2009 Kokoda Challenge (a 96km run over one day) created such a significant and overwhelming response from people. I never set out to strategically inspire people or to move them to tears. I just write as I experience events, with extreme honesty. I am always surprised that when I do go into my raw truth people respond with gratitude. It encourages me to continue. However, I still find the process mysterious. I have observed that it is often the case when we have a gift that the lack of striving means that we tend to discount the gift. Our whole society has been built around striving and achieving, and when we do not have to do either of these, we do not acknowledge value. Yet the great wisdom traditions teach the opposite.
To let go of striving and be like water.
And yet there is a fine balance between doing nothing and pushing too hard. There is also a lesson to be learned at the other side of crossing the red line of effort.
William James wrote “Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstruction.”
The art of living is to know the difference between when we are pushing/trying while spinning on the spot, when we need to push through, and when we need to let go and BE.
I am not sure I have this figured out yet, or indeed if I ever will, however the way I discriminate right action is as follows.
Letting go and being is the ground of all existence. The more we are in this place as the foundation for everything we do, the clearer our sight. There is a part of us that is always connected to the being. It is the part of us that is calm, all knowing, and without any ego. It does not require status, things, stuff, acknowledgment. It does not need to be liked, or seen to be good or right. It is the part of us that rests in truth. When I write my aim is to always speak from this place, and let the words flow.
Pushing/striving/trying has as its driving force a neediness and wantingness that is about I, me, mine…= my ego. I want this deal! I want it to look this way! I want this relationship. I want …I want..I want…I want my writing to be good…When I write to impress, I can never pull it off. It smells of writing to impress. People detect when we are wanting and needing for “I, me, mine” from across the floor. It reeks of trying for false gods.
Going above and beyond in any domain and breaking through in the way William James writes is about a beautiful combination of letting go of MY neediness and wantingness, and applying effort because we intuitively know that we must get to the other side in order to have the essential self, that part of us that rests in being and truth, rise above the small ego bound self who wants to quit, or finds it too hard, or boring, or painful, or …..?
I have written about discipline before. Discipline is about being a disciple unto the self. It is honouring the truth of ourselves, relaxing and letting go AND not being seduced by our own petty ego wants and needs. We all have areas where we are tempted to stray from the path of discipline. It is a noble challenge. The battle is with our own small self. You will know of which battle I speak. It will look like the conversation you have constantly with yourself over such things as eating/not eating certain foods, doing certain exercises or not, not spending, committing to activities that you know will support you in the highest way possible and yet not doing them…
It is the rising above this that William James speaks. When my essential self says yes to what it knows is a YES, and no to what it knows is a NO, then I reach a place of such clarity and alignment. The constant noise of battle goes away.
The interesting question is why do we not do this more…?
In my running, part of the love of running is because daily I get to be challenged around the three domains of being, trying and breaking through. It is a practice in discriminating between the three and learning the different voices. I get to listen to that small part of me that is weak and needy, and can can be very powerful in persuasiveness and seduction.
In my writing I am challenged by the voice who wants me to be lazy and not write. Or to only write when I am in the mood. Or..to do my emails first before I write…ughh!!